The Helper

The Helper

If you ever asked me what my goal in life was, I would give you a whole list of things that I wanted to accomplish and pretty much set my mind on succeeding to do so. But the biggest thing would be making a difference in someone’s life. Big or small, important or unimportant, as long as I was there and somehow left a good mark I would be the happiest person in the world. Now, I’ve had my fair share of helping people out in the littlest ways, but a girl of sixteen can really only do so much in life. I’ve never made a major difference.
Ever.

Every other single person wants to make a difference. They never know where to start or not even quite sure what to do or how, they just know they want to, and depend on destiny to bring it along their path.

But then that time comes along when the roads of destiny and life intercede, and you get that chance. Sometimes you honestly don’t even know it’s there. Sometimes you don’t even realize you’ve made a difference. But you have.

And when you do realize it, it just brings one of the happiest feelings in the world. A feeling of ecstasy. Pure bliss. And in that big, small, important, unimportant way, you know you’ve made a difference and helped someone.

My time came sooner than I would probably ever expect it to happen: the beginning of my sophomore year. I was still fifteen then and honestly had only just gotten used to the idea of high school and being older. I didn’t know that in early November destiny was going to cross my path of life with someone else’s. But it did.
And it brought me him.

If you had asked me a week, heck, even a day, before if I knew who he was, I would’ve tilted my head to the side, slowly rolled my eyes thoughtfully (looking for the answer somewhere in that brain I supposedly had), mouth slightly parted, and, after a full rotation of the eyes, looked at you, and said no.

Tall? Nope.

Lean? Muscular arms? Always wears a black jacket and muscle shirt? Who kicked it by so-and-so’s room?

I would’ve said nope, no, not really, and negative.

But, I would’ve told you, I’d like to (*cue the wink*). And then I would’ve laughed, changed the subject, and, if I remembered, probably scoped the student body as I made my way to my classes that day.

But I would’ve forgotten, if not the next day, later on that week.

Eventually.

That’s if you asked me before I met him.

After six months of knowing him, if you asked me if I knew that kid, I would’ve looked at you (wondering why you’re asking), then looked down, smiling to myself (all our memories flooding back to me in just three seconds), looked back up at you, (that smile still on my face) and nodded.

Yup, I would’ve said. I sure did.

Tall? Like a building.

Lean? Muscular arms? Always wears a black jacket and muscle shirt? Who kicked it by so-and-so’s room? What would’ve I said?

Well, he didn’t want to be fat. And, hey, he liked to work out. Yup, always (though in my opinion he looked better without it). And, oh, yeah, he did before he hung out with me.

And after we finished talking about him and moved on to another discussion, the whole time I would see his face in the back of my mind. I wouldn’t bother looking for him in the crowd at school, as much as I wanted, because he wasn’t there. Not anymore.

And all day, every day, I would wonder what he was doing, how he was, and if, maybe, he missed me? The way I missed him?

Probably not, I knew. And I would sigh and push him out of my thoughts until something else reminded me of him.
A tall guy. Nice arms.
Black jacket. Purple hat.
Guns. Pot. Drinking. Smoking.
Hugs. Smiles. Laughs.
And his name….

I lived for our walks home.

Looking back I now realized that we only had a limited amount, maybe three or four, five at the most. But each moment felt like a lifetime, and when it ended it was always over too fast.

Each time had become so routine we didn’t need to look anywhere else but at each other as we walked down the familiar path, the sounds of our feet slowly hitting the pavement becoming the beat we went to.

And when there was a calm silence between us everything was always loud. The voices of kids rolled over us. The beeps of car horns as they rumbled down the street to pick up the kids coming out of school like us were loud and noisy. And we could always hear the music from a passerby’s iPod that was always blaring just a tad too loud but gave off an elevator-like background noise that just faded into everything else. It all had become part of the scene.

But when we talked, everything was quiet and silent, like the world was our audience and only the wind carried the whispers of the leaves.

And at the nearness of him I could smell his sweet cologne and the mint of his gum as they mixed with the fresh smell of leaves and flowers as they drifted with the wind past my shoulders.

It was always a bright day but his tall frame cast a shadow over me so that I never had to squint my eyes at the sun. It was less than an advantage though when I tried to look into his eyes. It would’ve been a strain unless he was looking down at me, the muscle of his jaw always flexing in thought when he said nothing.

I loved looking into his eyes, loved seeing the hardness usually acquainted with them soften as he gazed into mine.

And how often he smiled, even if it was the slightest, when it would’ve been such a rare occurrence in front of anyone else.

I loved how he could be himself with me; tell me what was on that mind of his that I always found so mysterious. And I often wondered what he thought about when he would just look at me and say nothing.

Our conversations were always varied. It changed day to day, topic to topic. It was on one particular day, though, where our conversation drifted towards our out-of-school activities and the things we liked to do. It was always an honest discussion between me and him, but it surprised me when he had told me of his daily out-of-school activities. Words that had completely surprised me.

He lived a life filled with drugs, alcohol, parties, and violence.

A life that I never, not in a thousand years, would wish for a friend.

I stood quiet, and for once, so did the rest of the world when we were not talking. He stared down at me, his large brown eyes boring into my head as I looked down and watched my feet shuffle on the ground. He asked for my opinion then. In all honesty, I wanted to give it to him, wanted to tell him how stupid I thought he was being and how mislead he must have been throughout life. But I was not one to judge, I knew, and I could not tell other people how to run their lives. I quietly shook my head and smiled politely, saying that what I thought did not matter. It was, after all, his life.

His head cocked to the side, I saw with a quick glance, and he slowly asked me to please tell him what I thought. He would not get mad.

So I did. I told him every single fact I learned through school and common knowledge. I told him things from personal experiences and personal thoughts. After a long, uninterrupted speech, I concluded saying that those were merely my thoughts, things he didn’t, but could, have to take into consideration.

He stopped on the street then and looked down at me. I bent my head back and strained to meet his eyes. When he asked me if I thought he should stop, I said yes. When he asked why, I replied because I would not like to see my friend live a life of what, in my opinion, was wrong. He looked at me longer than, and told me something that brought the widest smile on my face.

He would stop. For me. Had already, in fact. To me it didn’t matter the reasons or causes but the mere fact that he would try made me the happiest person on earth. I hugged him then, and told him I was happy.

I lived for his hugs, and feeling the muscle in his arms as I wrapped myself in them and his soft black jacket. Because he never just hugged me, he held me. He held me close and he held me firm, and we always stood for the longest time until it was I that began to pull away.

And whenever it was time to pull away and say goodbye, it was always hard to have to turn and walk away without casting a last glance.

And when I did it never went unwarranted, since he was always there looking back at me waiting until I was out of sight until he turned and walked away.

Each time, I did not know though, that he would eventually walk away from my life.

And when he finally did, it hit me harder than ever. I had tried so hard, I thought, so hard to try and help him. It had seemed to be working. Did I do something wrong? Did I make a mistake? I didn’t know. I just knew that one second he was in my life and the next he wasn’t. One second he was there smiling at me like there was no tomorrow because he aced an algebra test – something he had never done or thought he could have done before – and the next he was gone. Vanished. And I didn’t know what to do. How can you so easily forget about someone you spent so much time and effort into? You can’t. They don’t just go away.

And he hasn’t. It has been four months since he left. I haven’t seen him once since then. I’ve talked to him several times though, but did not like what I heard. He did well in school, A’s he told me, practically all A’s. But there were other things that had clouded his judgment since he had last seen me. No here he was talking to me about his new life. Something I did not want to hear because each word brought tears to my eyes and weight on my heart. Now there was talk about more drugs, more alcohol, more parties, and gangs.

I blamed myself for a while, thinking that if I maybe tried just a bit harder on him, none of this would have ever happened. He would still be here doing better than ever. But there are some things that, sooner or later, you begin to realize. For me it was that I finally realized that I could not control everybody’s life and could not take responsibility for them either. But, I knew, I could try to help them. I couldn’t swim out to the ocean to save someone from drowning. But I could throw them a life raft and hope they would take it and swim back safely. I was not, indeed, a saver. I was a helper.





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